Message from Bishop Wallace-Padgett: Read Together 2023

December 30, 2022

Hello Friends,

I invite you to join the 2023 Read Together Initiative. I welcome those of you who are new to this opportunity. Similarly, welcome back to those of you who have participated in Read Together previously.

One of the hallmarks of the United Methodist movement is that we do life together. We pray, sing, serve, worship and build the church together. And through our Read Together Initiative we read scripture together. This year we will be using the Lectionary in structuring our daily scripture readings. Over the course of 2023, we will read the Bible in its entirety. 3-5 chapters per day of readings from the Old and New Testaments will be assigned on Mondays through Fridays and we will read from Year A of the Revised Common Lectionary on the weekends and holy days.

This past year I heard a great story about the commitment to Read Together made by 99-year-old Ben in 2022. Ben’s family described his life as being lived in two segments, the first ¾ and the final ¼. He was a successful, hard-working businessman throughout the first 75 years of his life. Then after experiencing the heartbreak of his wife’s passing, he began to search for meaning for the next phase of life. His pastor suggested he participate in a mission trip. One thing led to another, and his life was changed by those he met on not only his first mission trip but several others that followed.

During the next 20 plus years he grew exponentially in his faith as he served and faithfully practiced holy habits, including reading Scripture regularly. Ben passed from this life to the next in 2022. While visiting the family in preparation for his funeral service Ben’s pastor was handed the I-Pad on which Ben read the Bible digitally. (Ben had given away two of his hard copy Bibles to a pastor in Zimbabwe and a local caregiver). Upon opening the I-Pad, his pastor found the 2022 Read Together schedule. Ben had begun his 99th year reading together with others in his church and conference.

Friends, this man’s life story is an inspiration on many fronts. As one of his granddaughters said, “He just kept getting better with age.” I am convinced that one of the reasons Ben continued to grow in faith and witness was his commitment to read the living Word of God daily. May you and I make that same commitment for 2023 and beyond.

If you have signed up to receive our weekly emails, the week’s passages will be sent to your inbox. In addition, a weekly podcast emphasizing one of the themes from the previous weeks’ readings will be available to you.

I look forward to reading through the Bible together in 2023. May we encounter the living God often in Scripture as we read together.

As always, it is a privilege and joy to serve as your bishop.

Debra Wallace-Padgett
Resident Bishop
Holston and North Alabama Conferences

Discover, Develop and Deploy Spiritual Leaders to Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.